Cadets Cleared of Making White Supremacist Hand Gestures at Army-Navy Game

US President Donald Trump joins West Point cadets during the the Army v. Navy American Football game in Philadelphia on December 14, 2019. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
December 20, 2019

Cadets accused of flashing white supremacist hand gestures at Saturday's Army-Navy football game have been cleared following an investigation.

The U.S. Military Academy determined the cadets and midshipmen in question were playing the "circle game," where one person makes the "OK" sign and punches his friends if they look at the hand signal. The probe came after a social media outcry over some Army cadets and Navy midshipmen at the nationally televised game making the "OK" hand gesture, which has been appropriated by some white supremacist groups as a sign for "White Power."

"The investigating officer concluded that the cadets were playing a common game, popular among teenagers today, known as the 'circle game' and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army values," West Point's official Twitter account said.

Spokesmen for Annapolis and West Point added they were disappointed in the juvenile behavior of the service-academy students and they would be reprimanded.

The cadets making the gestures made national news and were accused of white supremacy by some journalists.

MSNBC's Joy Reid said during an interview of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) Sunday that they appeared to be flashing the "white power sign." She later relayed the story to her show's panel and accused them of doing a "white power" symbol and "making sure it got on TV."

"Even if they thought that was just ha-ha funny, own the libs, what does it mean that military cadets would do something like that, knowing it's going to be on TV?" she asked.

Guest Glenn Kirschner, a federal prosecutor, said they should be "dealt with swiftly and harshly" and investigated over what they were trying to communicate.

MSNBC did not respond to a request for comment.

Frequent Twitter user Tom Nichols called the cadets "stupid" while conceding they may have just been playing a game.

Other news outlets ran with the story based on a few seconds of footage, such as USA Today.

New York Magazine included the incident in an article about actual hate crimes in 2019 like the El Paso massacre, Town Hall's Julio Rosas noted.